From an education theater Open Form, asking for tips for presenting workshops

by: Stanley Allan Sherman

Your subject which you are concentrating on teaching, the time that you have to present it, goals to accomplish during your workshop is one way to begin to layout a workshop. Having specific goals for each workshop you teach helps.

What special information do you have to pass on to others? We not only want to hear information, but get this information into our bones. Give people a real honest experience. Balance how much detail can you get into, with the time you have?

There are trade-offs with time and information you are passing on. Getting into detailed information and giving people an experience about one aspect, versus, giving a good general over view with elements participants can take with them.

Example: one of the many workshops I teach, classical Commedia dell’Arte. Workshops can be a few hours, a week, two week or three weeks. Love the three week workshop because people leave being able to perform a full scenario. My one week workshop is geared to give performers and teachers an excellent over view of the Commeida dell’Arte. Having the time to have a student perform an improvisational exercise a second or sometime third time, can creates breakthroughs. But in a short workshop you may not have time for that. This month December 26 – 30th I am teaching my Winter Holiday Commedia dell’Arte workshop in NYC. The holiday workshop is 27 ½ hours combining history, detailed information, movement, scenario, mask work and even Southern Italian Commedia dell’Arte tambourine technique. You can see detailed information about this workshop at commediau.com and other workshops at maskarts.com. A few hour workshop, gives people facts of all the main stock Commedia dell’Arte characters, their movements, mask work with an over view. All that is supported with handouts of historical information to help the student or participant get a grasp on subject details.

Time goes fast. I always plan two to three times as much as I end up having time teach. Often I write out one or two words list of items I will cover during the workshop. I can refer to the list at points during the workshop.

Would like people to be able to walk away with enough information in their mind, body and hands to be able to use and grow. With ETA workshops you have intelligent participants that can take your information and use it to fit their needs.

Have fun, it helps us enjoy what you are giving. Have performed and taught workshops and classes in mime, mask work, mask making, Commedia dell’Arte, creating original material, neutral and metaphysical mask since I graduated Ecole Jacque Lecoqs Theater Mime Movement in 1972. Someone just friend-ed me on facebook telling me I performed my solo show at his school 40 years ago when he was a child. That stimulated him to go into physical theater and he is now teaching theater. You never know what you are going to give that will help change a persons life for the better. It was a workshop demos at a Thespian conference when I was in High School in 1968 that put me on the path I took in the acting performing, teaching, creating, arts entertainment world and industry.

Stanley Allan Sherman copyright 2016

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Performers Slapstick – Designed for the Performer

Arlecchino with his slapstick at his side, when the Commedia dell'Arte companies were kicked out of France by Louis XIV 1697.

Arlecchino with his slapstick at his side, when the Commedia dell’Arte companies were kicked out of France by Louis XIV 1697.

Over the last two years or more have been making, perfecting and testing all kinds of slapstick’s. Trying different designs. Leather hinges, spring loaded slapstick and others designs. Most did not work very well if at all. Spring loaded slapstick you can buy in some drum and music stores. It is for musicians, but clumsy and can be dangerous for the performer if you get your finger caught when the spring board is going down. Finally have a design I like, based on the inner workings of the original slapstick’s from the 1500′s, passed onto me by a European colleague.

Slapstick History: From my masters Jacque Lecoq and Carlo Mazzone-Clementi I learned; Arlecchino, the lowest of the servant characters of the Commedia dell’Arte from Bergamo, could not afford a sword. He used a stick in its stead. Arlecchino by G Van Der GuchtWhich is why I wanted to develop; a slapstick that looks like a simple stick. You can see graphic images of Arlecchino’s from the 1500s, 1600s and 1700s with his simple looking stick. His stick is design with two pieces of wood, and with a light tap it makes a smacking sound like someone was hit very hard, enabling the performer to hit others or get hit with the slapstick without injury. The Slapstick is a performer prop and instrument. Hitting it in different places will create slightly different sounds. Yes the word, Slapstick-Comedy comes from Arlecchino’s slapstick.

Research and development in creating these slapstick’s involved not only testing different designs but various materials as well as sourcing these materials. Now able to offering three levels of slapstick’s in three different woods, Oak, Poplar and Pine. They feel, weigh and sound different. The denser the wood the better the sound. All Slapsticks are 19” long and 2” wide. Yes I can make them longer or shorter.

Four slapsticks, from bottom to top, Oak, 2 Poplars and Pine

Four slapsticks, from bottom to top, Oak, 2 Poplars and Pine

Oak Slapstick makes the best and loudest smack sound, is the heaviest at around 5.4 oz and most difficult to make. Has an excellent feel, the wood is very dense.

Poplar Slapstick gives a very good smack and is lighter, weighing about 3 oz to 3.4 oz and has a very good feel.

Pine Slapstick is lightest, least dense wood weighing about 2.2 oz and makes the smacking sound, is not as loud or strong as poplar or oak.

For performers and educators where it will really be used, I recommend the Oak Slapstick as it is the strongest and loudest. Poplar is a very good alternative to Oak. Pine being the lightest, does not feel as strong as the poplar or oak slapstick’s, but works well for a beginning slapstick.

holding the oak Slapstick

Oak Slapstick

 

Each Slapstick is handmade in NYC on the island of Manhattan at Mask Arts Company studio. There are no metal or moving parts. There is a lot that goes into the inner workings of the slapstick. Which is why it has taken years to develop these three Slapstick’s I now offer.

Slapstick Prices:
19″ Poplar Slapstick   $150
19″ Oak Slapstick       $200
24″ Poplar Slapstick  $200
24″ Oak Slapstick       $250
For custom unique Slapstick’s, contact me.

www.maskarts.com

 

Arlecchino with another character maybe a Capitano using his Slapstick.  by Johann Probst 1673-1748

Arlecchino with another character maybe a Capitano using his Slapstick. by Johann Probst 1673-1748

by: Stanley Allan Sherman
copyright 2016

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Life After Death – Raunchy Fun

By: Stanley Allan Sherman © September 28, 2014
Mask Arts Company New York NY

Created & Performed by: Heidi Brucker Morgan and Matthew Morgan
Two other performers are in the show, but there was no programs and cannot find their names.
From L.A. California

Life After Death show Heidi Brucker Morgan and Matthew MorganIf your looking for a not for children show, (although kid would love it) this is it. Heidi and Matthew throw circus technique, geek, acrobatics, clown, raunchy, blue movement comedy, male theatrical nudity, make fun of juggling and anything else they can. Life After Death is fun, original and entertaining. They make use of simple lighting effects, giving a feeling of an old black and white film. An entertaining accident continues the fun.

Heidi Brucker Morgan in a swim suite with her arms in the airSpraying something from two cans of something that did not make the audience sick, they play in a fun cheep smoke effect. Doing geek simple magic effects Matthew, makes some members of the audience scream and cover their eyes. It is the relationship and anything can happen characters between these two showoffs that make the magic happen.

The third performer (do not know his name performer) came from a trunk that was on stage from the beginning. We hear a knocking of the trunk. There is a knock knock game that develops between the audience and the trunk. Finally an audience member bravely goes and opens the trunk and out pops a classical white face poetic actor. Finally Heide and Matthew come out asking, “who let him out?” Then capture him, trying to get him off stage. All this works and we are well entertained.

As far as audience participation, Heidi and Matthew take it to a new raunchy level. The pace of the show is excellent and the whole show holds together from beginning to end, except for the fourth performer in this show who was a guitarist and singer. The set up was great as well as the singing. But felt like he was just stuck into the show and the pace and build of the show took an odd turn.

Life After Death Heidi Brucker Morgan picking her teeth and Matthew Morgan picking his noseThe audience loved Life After Death and it was the final show at the 2014 NY Clown Theater Festival. But you can still see these two fun raunchy performers in New York at The Slipper Room 167 Orchard St. NYC 10002 this Monday in their show Shotspeare. Doors open at 7 PM, curtain at 8 PM. This is a 21 years and older show. If you have not been to The Slipper Room it is one of the unique performance spaces in NYC that besides burlesque they offer variety performers and unique theater. I know you can sometimes find Zero Boy and other variety entertainers performing there. Advanced tickets at www.slipperroom.com

Heidi Brucker Morgan and Matthew Morgan website: www.maryandharry.com
Matthew Morgan: www.matthewmorgan.info
Heidi Brucker Morgan:  www.heidibrucker.org

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(Almost Definitely) Questionable Acts ~ avant garde absurdest…

Questionable Acts Theatre Company
Created and performed by: CB Goodman and Josh Rice
New York, NY

by: Stanley Allan Sherman  © September 21, 2014

 Josh Rice  &  CB Goodman sitting on stage with a light and lamp wearing bowler hats

Josh Rice & CB Goodman

If you like avant garde or absurdest theatre – you might like this show.  There are several good things going on.  CB Goodman and Josh Rice are two very multi-talented performers.  There is everything from shadow puppets, great well executed acrobatics and other things.  Josh is naked for some parts of the show and these bits works.

The show is made up of several short pieces, some solo others duets. Most work well, some are funny other dramatic.  The performers look well rehearsed and very hard working. There are powerful visuals throughout this show of all types.

CB Goodman & Josh Rice with CB holding Josh upside down

CB Goodman & Josh Rice

The show starts out with our two performers going through the audience meeting people, asking their names and writing name tags for some members of the audience.  For me they did not write my name. CB wrote “Beautiful Barn.”  I have no idea what they wrote on other peoples name tags. After she asked me my name, I asked her hers. She told me you will find out later.  Never found out unless it is Sharon Tate. Nothing was ever done with these special odd name tags.

CB Goodman & Josh Rice playing Sharon Tate and Charles Mason

CB Goodman & Josh Rice playing Sharon Tate and Charles Mason

Most of their bits worked, except one. CB does a fun getting dressed for a ringing door bell piece. Ringing doorbells is a transitional theme of the show and used well. Soon we understand that Josh is playing “Charles Manson” with a black swastika drawn on his forehead and CB is “Sharon Tate.”  With a very tragic topic like this, mass murder, it is very delicate.  The topic of a mass murder that actually happened can be amazing powerful theater, even funny or it can blow up in you face in bad taste. Their jokes did not work with this audience on this night.  Unless they were trying to turn the audience off; like the great Andy Kaufman would do sometimes. When the audience understood what was going on, there were more than a few muffled “oh my G-D’s” that I heard in the audience. Looking across the audience, people were stone faced. Now maybe with a certain audience they might find this funny. This NY York Clown Theater Audience on this night did not.  This is where they lost me.

CB Goodman & Josh Rice with CB standing on Josh's shoulders

CB Goodman & Josh Rice

This show does have excellent potential.  There seems to be lacking a clear story line and/or dramatic build.  There is a part of a nice ending. These two do have something very special and powerful going on, on stage.  I did not see any director credited and it is possible an excellent outside eye that knows how to direct and develop original pieces might help this very talented team.

Almost Definitely) Questionable Act check it out, if you are into avant garde or absurdest theater.   They have one more show in the festival.

NY Clown Theater Festival www.bricktheater.com/clown
Saturday September 20th @ 8:30pm
$15

Questionable Acts Theatre Company http://www.questionable-acts.com

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Bathtub Jen and the Henchmen – Fun Funny Show

Performed by: Jennifer Harder, Charley Layton, Glen Heroy
Written by: Jennifer Harder, Charley Layton, Glen Heroy
Directed by: The Ensemble
Tech provided by: Gavin Starr Kendall

by: Stanley Allan Sherman

jenhenchmen3 Entering playing music…this is an instrumental musical show. This ensemble has fun from beginning to end. Funny jokes, dumb jokes, off colored jokes; but no matter what they do, it is done with lots of joy. At the beginning they tell all the children to leave to avoid lawsuits. The base of the show are three very strong character that make this very odd and different show work. Jen a ne’er-do-well scamp, playing the trumpet. Ivan Ivanovitch Ivanoff an odd Russian character that plays a mean according and some strings. Glen Heroy playing Commissioner Ray O’Sun “Ray” Kelly playing the spoons and other things. All three are loaded with many talents that they use well together.

jenhenchmen1If you are looking for an odd and different show, this is it. Anything with Glen Heroy, you are going to get 200%. At one point Glen plays his spoons on every part of Jen’s body, complete with personal comments. Ivan – seems to specialize in really bad joke.

Playing music and old time songs with twist in twisted situations. It is the counter mask of these characters that is fun and funny about Bathtub Jen and the Henchmen. Full of dark off color, ugly, laughing, humor. One could say the show could use a little story line tweaking. Over all it is very worth while traveling into their world.

jenhenchmenNY Clown Theater Festival www.bricktheater.com/clown
Tickets $15
Next Shows Friday Sept 19 @ 7PM & Thursday Sept 25 @ 7 PM

Website: http://www.bathtubjen.com/
Jennifer Harder: www.jenniferharder.com
Charley Layton: www.charleslayton.com
Glen Heroy: www.glenheroy.com
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Bach Forever – or my Honeymoon in Chernobyl: Bold Clown Theater

by: Stanley Allan Sherman
© September 17, 2014

Created and performed by Lucie B
From: Toulouse, France

lucie3A very charming different bold clown with lots of artist power. Molding in everything from dance (ballet on point), photography, video and yes clown into her show and it is all used, because it is needed. It is simple with simple props. Lucie’s interaction and play with the audience is wonderful. Playing and taking advantage of everything that happens every moment. Lucie is an artist that never does the same show twice. Each time it is different. This also give her show a wonderful edge. It is very much a story telling show… only its true, based on facts.

Yes Lucie really did go to Chernobyl. There is a political edge to “Bach Forever – or my Honeymolucie2on in Chernobyl” that delicately hits you with a sludge hammer of power. This political clown theater really works and avoids all the political theater problems that most political theater has, giving us a wonderful evening at the same time. Resulting in a very strong piece of theater. As to this festival. It is a clown theater festival. This show has lots of theater that is used well by this lovely clown. She is clever, full of surprises and very French.

“Bach Forever – or my Honeymoon in Chernobyl” is very different from any other show so far in this festival.  I am sorry she only performed it this one time at this NY Clown Theater Festival. Those who caught the show had a real treat, adding to a broad world of clown theater.

After theLucie show Lucie let the audience ask questions about anything, but mainly Chernobyl. We found out about how many had died, about wild life reaction and animals. For many animals, (not birds), it is a place without people so lots of animals are there.

If you want to catch “Bach Forever – or my Honeymoon in Chernobyl” you will have to go to France, this was the one and only show for it at the festival.

Lucie B website www.sans-paradis-fixe.net

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NYC Street Performers vs Corporate Costumed Harassers & the Public: Open Message to Political Leaders

by: Stanley Allan Sherman © September 11, 2014

There is a little war going on in Time Square New York, NY among the public vs Corporate Costumed Harassers that get the public to pose for photos with them, then demand money vs real performers honing their craft and art. These Corporate Costumed Harassers are being called Street Performers. They are not Street Performers. You could call them Corporate Costumed Harassers or anything – but never Street Performers. Street Performers are in a class of their own and performing in the street is vital for the growth of artists in our entertainment industry.

Developing, gaining real performance experience, developing your act, artistry, learning and a way to make money as you are developing yourself for your breaks and dreams. Performing artist make their own breaks. Yes, I’ve performed a lot in the street, doing mime, clown and juggling in the 1970′s. My cities, started in Tel Aviv, then Paris while I was studying at Ecole Jacque Lecoq, performing in the streets so I could eat. In Paris, Philippe Petit was on the next block and we were both pretty bad to start out with, but we got a lot better quickly. We had to in order to make money passing the hat in exchange for our shows. Cannes during the summer of 1971. Then Portland, Oregon where I grew up and finally New York, NY. Was also doing inside theater shows in Portland and NY most of this time. But a lot of survival money came from my Street Performances. Plus the experience and knowledge gained one could not learn anywhere else. This knowledge became vital as my life as an artist developed.

New York City, auditioning, licensing, banning street performance would put many artists development in jeopardy. Night Clubs, Not for profit theaters, comedy clubs, fairs and other organized places to perform are not a replacement for the Street Performance. The Street has been where great artists of all types have gain a performance edge you cannot get in any school or organized theater. This is a small list of performance and visual artist coming from the street. Doing a little research into this there were some surprise names, one big surprise.

Pablo Picasso – discovered in the streets of Paris, France where he sold his paintings
Robin Williams – performed in front of the Museum of Modern Art on 5th Ave, NYC
Marc Weiner – a friend of Robin William also performed there and went on to do his own TV show for children, films and he is still working.
Paul & Micheal – Big Apple Circus, there spot was Washington Square Park, NYC. If it had not been for the freedom to perform in the NYC Park who knows if Big Apple Circus would be. They developed and refined their art and the connections with other street performers. Then they fulfilled their dream starting The Big Apple Circus. Their first show was made up of mostly Street Performers.
Bill Irwin – his city was San Francisco. When he appeared on the Jonny Carson Tonight Show. Jonny asked him, how he learned how to do this. Because you only learn this from experience and the Vaudeville houses are closed. It was the street. Bill has moved on to Broadway and Television.
Stanley Allan Sherman – my spots were #1, Wall Street & Nassau in front of the Federal Treasure Building. A natural theater. Who came to watch me, presidents of major Wall Street Corporations. One day after finishing my lunch time shows, one fellow in a suit started walking with me and asked me. “I have all the money I could possibly dream of, yet I am not happy. I see you performing, your passing a hat making a little money and I see your happy with joy. Can you tell me how to be happy?” Another person left a photo of me performing mounted in an envelope in my hat one day. It had a note. “This photo is on my desk and it is what helps me get through the day. Thank you.” #2 Washington Square Park, Battery Park for the Statue of Liberty Ferry Boat Lines. #3 Central park mall and sail boat pond. I went on to have very successful tours of my solo show and did 41 different show comedy bits with the team at Late Night with Conon O’Brien and Off Broadway for 3 ½ years.
B.B. King or Riley B. King as a child – played on the street of Mississippi.
Bernie Mac – for two years performed on the Streets of Chicago. In one article it said it made him fearless.
Pierce Brosnan performed in the street of London doing a show spitting fire.
Benjamin Franklin the founder of our Freedom of Speech for our country. As a youngster in Boston, Franklin would perform songs and read poems he wrote that commented on current events, which he’d then sell prints of to his fellow colonists.

Put this small selection of street performers next to the Corporate Costumed Harassers and you see there is a major difference. Street performers are growing and making a living performing. One usually does not go out of theater school and land a corporate entertainment job with a good union contract. Street performers work insanely hard, putting everything on the line, having fun, bringing joy to the public.

It says in Babylonian Talmude Ta’Anit: and I thank John Towsen for turning me on to this passage. “One day when the Prophet Elijah was standing in the marketplace, a friend came up to him and asked: “Is there anybody in this multitude who will have a share in the world to come?” Elijah looked about him and with a sigh answered, “no.” Then he looked about again and pointed to two men who had just entered the market place and were making their way though the crowds. These two men will have a share in the world to come.” “What is their occupation and what have they done to deserve it?” Asked Elijah’s friend. “They are clowns,” replied Elijah, and when they see people troubled in mind or heavy with sorrow they make them laugh, and when they meet people who quarrel, they make peace between them.”

Yes there were street performance during the time of the Temple in Jerusalem. This is what they did, just as most of the street performers did in the 1970′s and today. Corporate Costumed Harassers do not fit the Prophet Elijah’s definition.

Note to NYC politicians. If the Corporate Costumed Harassers are a problem, these characters and everything they do are owned and under copyright by major entertainment corporations. Unlike original street performers who own all their original work and take responsibility for everything they do. Just write or call these entertainment corporations and tell them to please get control of their property walking around harassing and demanding money from people in Time Square.

Please feel free to use any part of this to speak, write etc… your local political leader, as NYC is now looking hard at passing some kind of law dealing with this issue.

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“La Cita” – make a date for “The Date”

by: Stanley Allan Sherman © September 10, 2014

Created and performed by: Felipe Ortiz
Music by: Sebastian Sero
Director: Felipe Ortiz of La Gata Cirko and Picnic Improvisation of Colombia
La Gata Cirko
Bogota, Columbia

La CritaHow wonderful, simple play of silences; mime done well you do not even notice the lack of words. Felipe is an excellent mime, an art you need to be a great clown. Sebastian our live musician of La Cita plays guitar, piano, percussion and computer. Between Felipe and Sebastian they have a playful relationship that enhances the play of Felipe’s silent story telling and props manipulation. If you would like a show with great prop manipulation and more this is your show. All the prop manipulation is totally integrated into the story flowing very well.

La crita2In La Cita we have laughs but also poetry of movement, manipulation and story telling. All which is enhanced with music. Our opening of the show, Felipe is setting up and Sebastian is playing guitar and singing as the audience is entering. We can easily listen to his music the entire show.  The play begins with Felipe and Sebastian playing off each other and Sebastian playing with Felipe. But mostly the music enhances what Felipe is dong sometimes adding another element to the action. La Cita is all about prep for a date and the date. In life the prep can be everything. Making things perfect. Of course there is lots of room for play here. Felipe’s physicality is a joy to watch as it is never showing off, but the play of the storyline.

In this New York Clown Theater Festival we can all easily enjoy this show that works on many levels. Although it is not slated as a family show – one could take the family to this show. La Cita storyline is simple with real heart and elements of life. One comes to La Cita for the play and joy of it, which works on several levels.

You want to catch this fun and poetic show.

NY Clown Theater Festival www.bricktheater.com/clown
Two more show $15
Thursday, September 11th @ 7pm
Friday, September 12th @ 8:30pm

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Pinot & Augustine – Brilliantly Simple Clowns

by: Stanley Allan Sherman © September 9, 2014

Happenstance Theater
Created by: Pinot – Mark Jasater & Augustine – Sabrina Mandell
From Washington DC

Clowns Pinot & Augustine

Pinot & Augustine

One of the great joys of clown theater is how you can do so much with so little. Pinot & Augustine clowns totally drive their show. Pinot speaking in French all the time and Augustine translating everything Pinot says. This translation some how work really well adding a nice flavor to the show. Their totally different clowns on opposite sides of clown personality world. In a festival of lots of solo clown shows it is a pleasure to see two clowns working together so well. Pinot & Augustine truly make the most of their differences. It is all the little subtleties they put into every single little thing that they do. The show is built of short acts, put together into a show. Augustine is great at putting in inside jokes and inside jokes for this Clown Theater Festival audience.

Pinot on the ladder & Augustine behind their signIf your looking for a kids friendly show Pinot & Augustine is it and all the adults will be laughing too. Simple props, acts and play all done well. Their show is not made up of a lot of original material/bits, but how they play their material they make it their own with original twist. Pinot plays his musical instrument like a master. Augustine plays her character with lots of joy. It is their counter balance of these two totally different clowns that makes this show so enjoyable.

The rhythm and arch of the show can use a little tweaking. For the show family audience market they are playing too, it is a well put together show and professionally played.

 

Happenstance Theater2Pinot & Augustine website: http://www.happenstancetheater.com/

Next shows that are part of the NY Clown Theater Festival www.bricktheater.com/clown
Wednesday September 10 @ 7:00 PM

 

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Poffy du Vey “Burden of Proof” Intense Beautiful Fun

by: Stanley Allan Sherman © September 8, 2014

Performed and Created by: Courtney Cunningham
Original 2007 touring production directed by Emily Davis
From: Los Angeles, CA

Poffy du Vey1There are some clown shows that are special. Full of reflections of life. This is a wonderful very feminine delicate and at times intense, loud and knows what she wants…clown with some real fear issues. Well, one main big issue. Poffy du Vey creates wonderful moments with a great over all energy and rhythm throughout her show. A very personal show with issues that can touch us all. There is laughter but also sadness with that empty feeling one can get. Her magic is in her play and how she dances with her honesty, moment to moment.

Poffy du Vey 3Her play with the audience is very integrated with a soft yet comfortably and fun way. Poffy du Vey engaged us from the opening to the last moment. It is refreshing to be able to see a great clown play silence and play it well. The opening music sounded original and it was short; allowing Poffy to totally take over and setup her rhythm and sensitivities for the evening. Everything that happens is used by Poffy du Vey.

Wonderful joyful evening of clown theater. You want to catch Poffy du Vey show.

To Contact: Courtney Cunningham or Poffy du Vey http://www.courtneycunningham.com/

There was no program, so I cannot credit costume or other elements.  There was a lot of music used, some of it sounded original others sounded like known pieces. None of the music in the show I am able to credit for this review.

One shows left that is part of the NY Clown Theater Festival www.bricktheater.com/clown
Wednesday, September 10 @ 8:30 PM

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Directing
Dance theater film
Custom masks and props
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